Town Crier Competition 2020

Published: 22 September 2020

The 12th Annual Wareham Town Crier competition

On the second Saturday in July every year, the Wareham Town Crier organises a Town Crier competition on the banks of the Frome, and many colourful characters descend on the town to enjoy Wareham’s hospitality.

There is a parade through the main streets, which culminates in the noisy gathering on the Performance Area. Each crier has to take their turn in performing their home cry in front of two judges, who check for volume, clarity, inflection and diction. After the first round, they all have a saunter around Wareham, and adjourn for a hearty lunch in town. In the afternoon, there is a second round with a cry of the crier’s choice. It must be between 100 and 125 words, start with three Oyez’s and ends with God Save the Queen. Again, they are marked.

When the marks are added up, the one with the most is honoured with the trophy as Best Town Crier, and there are also trophies for the runners up. They are also judged on their costume, with trophies for the best dressed crier, best dressed escort and best dressed couple.

The day ends with a lovely cream tea, and the Wareham Town Crier goes home exhausted.

This has happened every year since 2009, but due to the exceptional circumstances in 2020, the first virtual town crier competition was held on Zoom. There were ten criers, including Joseph McGrail-Bateup representing Australia, who was participating at midnight his time, so couldn’t ring his bell for fear of disturbing the neighbours. There was only one home cry round which was judged on content, sustained volume, clarity, diction and inflection. However, this was not so easy online!

Judging was done by the Town Clerk Vanessa Ricketts, and Councillor Sue Kemp. They were: 1st Andrew Fleming of Swanage, 2nd John Collingwood of Bridport, and 3rd Joseph McGrail-Bateup of Canberra and Queanbeyan.

It was great fun. I was aided and abetted by my daughter Michelle Hall and friend Dave Wheatley, who put the competition on Youtube:

Those prize winners from 2019 will defend their titles at the 13th Wareham Town Crier competition, which will hopefully be back on terra firma on the banks of the River Frome on Saturday 10th July 2021.